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There is no doubt that the rate of children who are being homeschooled is increasing. In Australia, homeschooling has seen an average annual growth rate of 9.4% over the last 9 years. In Australia, 21,437 students registered for homeschool in 2019. This means that in 2019, one in every 200 students was homeschooled.
So why are Australian homeschooling rates increasing?
- Parents are putting less trust in the public school system.
- More parents are able to homeschool while they work from home.
- There are more resources to support homeschool parents than ever before.
- There is a greater culture of homeschool, particularly in the US.
Parents are putting less trust in the public school system.
Teaching students who have been homeschooled, this is one that comes up again and again. Many families simply don’t trust the public school system, and cannot afford a private school.
There are parents as well who do not trust the school system entirely, regardless of whether it is public or private. The reasons for this can range from the political ideas that they are worried will be pushed in the classroom or, more commonly, feeling like the school system has let them down in the past.
I taught a Year 6 student once who had been locked in a cage in the corner of his classroom for his bad behaviour. This student had ASD and struggled with self-regulation, and the other students would often wind him up. I remember reading about this in our local news when it happened, which was a few years before I ended up teaching him.
I’ve also taught a student who had been homeschooled for the last few years because he was seriously harming himself because of bullying at his old school. He was only 7 years old at the time. He really wanted to go back to school. He had been lonely at home and really wanted to give it another go. Mum had a panic attack at the enrolment meeting because she couldn’t bear the thought of this happening to her son again.
It is important to remember as teachers that there are so many reasons why parents decide to homeschool. If you spend some time talking to these parents, most of the time they do still believe that sending their child to school is probably ideal, but they do not want to put their children through our current school system.
More parents are able to homeschool while they work from home.
We have seen a greater jump in the number of students who are being homeschooled in the last few years. There have been a number of instances that I am aware of where the decision was made because the child or another member of the family was immunocompromised and they couldn’t risk the guarantee of getting sick that comes with sending your child to school.
Homeschooling has also become more possible now than ever before. While it may be difficult if not impossible to cater for a primary school student while you’re also working during the day, many manage it with their teenagers. This does need to be a decision based on each particular circumstance, including the nature of work the parent is doing and the self-sufficiency of the student.
I’ve even spoken to a parent who owned their own small business. They would bring their 13-year-old daughter to work with them everyday and they would sit there to do their schoolwork in the back office, also helping out in the shop for periods during the day. This wasn’t just getting her to do some work either, the father was making sure to teach her how he ran his business because this was important to him.
There are more resources to support homeschool parents than ever before.
As homeschooling is becoming increasingly popular, there are now more resources to support it than ever before. Many teachers and other homeschool parents are making and selling resources on Teachers Pay Teachers or making them available for free online, and there are a wide range of different platforms that many schools use that homeschoolers can also access.
Education Perfect, Stile, Mathspace, IXL, and many other online learning platforms are easy for homeschoolers to access and use. Schools all over the country use these in their classrooms anyway, so it is very little change if any to be accessing them at home. The main difference is the instruction and often the application of skills, but homeschool parents can easily access the resources that can make up the core of their homeschool programs.
All of these platforms have their own curriculum that is mapped to our own Australian Curriculum, so there is no risk of leaving out things that they would normally be taught in schools. A lot of them are self-guided as well, so that students can access what they want when they want and adjust the difficulty as they learn.
There is a greater culture of homeschooling, particularly in the US.
One of the key reasons why there is so much more awareness and so many more resources to support those who want to homeschool in Australia is that the homeschooling rates are increasing even quicker elsewhere in the world. The US in particular had 3.7 million homeschool students in 2020-2021, which is around 6-7% of all students.
This has led to the development of EdTech and online platforms suited for these students; it has become a huge business. Parents who want to homeschool are more supported now than ever by online communities and groups on social media where homeschoolers can share resources, ideas, and frustrations, and organise joint events and catch-ups.
There are many similar reasons why parents in the USA choose to homeschool their children, but there are a lot of differences as well. A key one is the increasing frequency of school shootings, and parents not wanting their children to be in an environment where that is a very real risk. Even though we don’t face this risk to the same degree in Australia, the situation in the US has led to greater awareness and more support for those who choose to homeschool.
Do you homeschool your children, or are you considering it? What are your reasons for considering homeschooling? Let us know in the comments below!